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Fire devastated communities face loss -

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Fire devastated communities face loss

AM - Thursday, 13 January , 2005 08:00:00

Reporter: Nick McKenzie

ELEANOR HALL: The communities on South Australia's Eyre Peninsula that have been devastated by
Australia's most deadly bushfire in decades are now facing the painstaking task of rebuilding their
homes and confronting the loss of friends and family members.

Police have confirmed that nine people died in the fire, while three are still missing, and more
than 100 people have been treated for burns.

But despite the grief and destruction, many from the close-knit townships are determined to keep
their spirits high.

Nick McKenzie reports.

NICK MCKENZIE: It's a tragedy that's touched almost everyone who helps make up the small
communities on the Eyre Peninsula.

Brian Treloar is Chairman of the District Council, which administers many of the affected townships

BRIAN TRELOAR: Houses lost, houses saved. It was the luck of the draw. Why did this burn and that
didn't? You know, they are questions you can't answer.

When the dust settles and you look at what has happened and how it has happened you think my god,
this is something that's very close to home, very close to people that you know and well,
underneath all of that, we'll be back. And I know the spirit's there, the community's there.

We'll rise above it, but it is something that gives you one kick in the backside and there's a
certain trauma about it, from which you'll always remember what happened on that day.

NICK MCKENZIE: Barry Speed is the owner of the Wheatsheaf Hotel in North Shields, one of the worst
affected townships.

His telephone landline no longer works and he's keeping the pub's beer on ice because electricity
supply is also affected.

He says the task of rebuilding may take months.

BARRY SPEED: It will be really huge. Look, as I say, there's a lot of homes gone, there's a lot of
sheds, and absolutely miles or kilometres of fencing, just hundreds of kilometres of fencing. So,
you know, these things are going to take quite a long time in some cases, and I guess some of it
will never be able to be replaced because people have lost their homes, have lost a hell of a lot
of personal stuff as well.

NICK MCKENZIE: District Council Chairman Brian Treloar says for some, the task of building a new
home will simply be too much. He's also concerned that the loss of precious topsoil may devastate
the local farming industry.

BRIAN TRELOAR: Some people can sort of say, look I've had enough. I'm out of here. Others can say,
you know, this is my country, this is my pad and I'm going to rebuild. And those people, all of
those people, will be admired for what they decide and the community will be behind them, for what
they decide to do.

And the spirit there, we've had phone calls from across South Australia, across Australia,
inquiring as to how we are and can we help? What can we do?

NICK MCKENZIE: Brian Treloar says the toughest challenge for many will be dealing with the loss of
loved ones.

He says it appears two of those who perished had actually driven towards the flames in an effort to
help out.

BRIAN TRELOAR: I think the thing that has touched me more than anything is people you know who came
from another area to assist, have lost their life, and they are family people and that's a tragedy.
You know, the real tragedy of it all. The rest can be rebuilt.

ELEANOR HALL: Local Council Chairman, Brian Treloar ending that report by Nick McKenzie.